Installation of emergency call boxes on Ventura County freeways, scheduled for April, will be delayed because of a dispute over patent rights, a county official said.
Al Knuth, deputy director of the county Public Works Department, said that installation of the 390 solar-powered call boxes will be delayed at least until July because of legal squabbles between two communications companies that had bid on the project.
"It's a disappointment we sure didn't expect," he said in an interview Friday.
Knuth said the county has spent $3,000 to hire an attorney specializing in patent law to help settle the disagreement. The attorney, Bernard Kleinke of San Diego, is to report to county officials Feb. 22, he said.
In October, the county awarded Cubic Communications Corp. of San Diego a contract for nearly $817,000 to install the boxes at quarter- and half-mile intervals on six freeways. It rejected a competing bid of about $1 million from GTE Cellular Communications Corp. of Burbank.